Trent Murphy

AFC Notes: Foster, Joseph, Mack

Good news for Steelers fans. Left guard Ramon Foster, who was carted off the practice field yesterday, hyperextended his knee but did not suffer any ligament damage and will not require surgery, as Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network reports (via Twitter). Kinkhabwala adds that Foster will miss four to five weeks but is expected to be ready for Week 1.

Now let’s get to more notes from around the AFC:

  • Browns owner Jimmy Haslam expressed unwavering support of head coach Hue Jackson during Haslam’s traditional training camp address yesterday. Per Tony Grossi of ESPN 850 WKNR, Haslam said, “I think we will see the real Hue Jackson (this year). He has good quarterbacks, he has some skill players, he has veteran offensive line – now, we have to figure out left tackle – and three really good backs and a good defense. I think this will be the first opportunity Hue will have to do what we know he can do as head coach and as a leader. We are excited to see it.” That certainly sounds to some, like Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Jackson is getting a clean slate, which is quite surprising for a head coach who has compiled a 1-31 record over his two seasons with the club. But Grossi suggests that the Haslams could also be subtly putting Jackson on notice that he is out of excuses.
  • Johnathan Joseph, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal to remain with the Texans this offseason, does not plan on calling it quits anytime soon, as Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old Joseph is entering the 13th year of his career, but he remains a starting cornerback and stills loves the game and the camaraderie it engenders. Joseph said, “as long as I’m healthy and I’m fine, I’m going to go out there and compete and contribute to the team. I’ll never play this game just to be playing and out there taking checks and stuff like that. So, if I’m able to be out there playing winning football, I’ll always play.”
  • We learned several days ago that Raiders star defensive end Khalil Mack, who is staying away from the team in an effort to land a new contract, has not spoken with head coach Jon Gruden since Gruden was hired in January. That report sent some of Raiders Nation into panic mode, but as Jerry McDonald of the Mercury News opines, there is no cause for alarm. He says Gruden is right to stay out of the negotiations, which is the domain of GM Reggie McKenzie and ownership, and that there should be no issues between Mack and Gruden when the contract situation does get resolved. McKenzie, meanwhile had no updates to offer on the negotiations.
  • In other Raiders news, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com reports that rookie Kolton Miller will be given every chance to win the starting LT job from Donald Penn, who is currently on the PUP list.
  • Embattled Bills DE Shaq Lawson could be on his way out of Buffalo, but DC Leslie Frazier isn’t casting him aside just yet. Frazier said Lawson’s best football is ahead of him, and that he is much too young to say that 2018 is a make-or-break year (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW on Twitter). However, as Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets, Frazier also refers to Trent Murphy as the team’s starting left end, which is further evidence that Lawson has ground to make up if he wants to remain a Bill.

Bills To Sign LB Trent Murphy

The Bills will sign free agent edge rusher Trent Murphy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s a three-year, $21MM deal, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, while the total value can rise to $30MM, per Rapoport (Twitter link).

Murphy, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Redskins, drew plenty of free agent interest despite missing the entire 2017 campaign with a torn ACL and MCL. Both the Patriots and Buccaneers were reportedly in on Murphy, while Washington had offered him a contract to return to the nation’s capital.

The Bills plan to use Murphy at defensive end, not linebacker, as Joe Buscaglia of WKBW tweets. Buffalo already has two starting defensive ends in Jerry Hughes and Shaq Lawson, but Murphy will offer depth allow the Bills to play their edge rushers in a rotational capacity.

A former second-round pick, Murphy’s best season came in 2016 when he posted nine sacks. That potential was enough to get him a multi-year deal this year, but the 27-year-old certainly comes with risk attached. Not only can a dual ACL/MCL injury be tough to recover from, but Murphy was also suspended four games last season for performance-enhancing drug usage.

The Bills have been active this offseason, not only in trading away offensive starters such as Tyrod Taylor and Cordy Glenn, but in adding defensive talent such as Star Lotulelei and Rafael Bush.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots, Bucs In On Trent Murphy

It’s down to three teams for Trent Murphy. The Patriots, Buccaneers, and the incumbent Redskins are all in the mix for the outside linebacker, according to ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine (on Twitter). 

The Redskins extended Murphy an offer over the weekend, but he elected to test the market before putting pen to paper. He’s likely glad that he did, given the healthy market for his services.

Murphy missed all of 2017 due to multiple injuries, including tears to his ACL and MCL in addition to offseason foot surgery. He also has a PED suspension in his past. To his credit, he showed promise in the previous season by registering nine sacks off the bench.

Trey Flowers and Eric Lee served as the Patriots’ starting defensive ends last season and are both under contract for 2018. The duo combined for 10 sacks last season. The Patriots entered Wednesday having the 21st-most available cap space in the NFL at $22.41MM.

As for Tampa Bay, which also locked up defensive tackle Beau Allen on Wednesday, it has William Gholston and Robert Ayers returning at defensive end after working as the starters for the majority of last year. The Bucs also have 2016 second-round pick Noah Spence, who was limited to six games last season.

The Redskins originally selected Murphy in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Stanford. Outside of missing all of last season, he had missed just one game through his first three seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Have Offer Out To Trent Murphy

Trent Murphy will be eligible to speak to other teams as a free agent Monday, but the Redskins are trying to keep him off the market.

Washington has offered the UFA outside linebacker, J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington reports. PFR’s No. 3 edge defender free agent, Murphy resides in a weak class at the position. An agreement with Washington would further deplete the contingent.

Murphy lent credence to this offer coming in, or his camp being intrigued by it, via Twitter post Sunday night. Murphy is coming off a lost season, and this may well be a one-year proposal.

He missed all of 2017 because of multiple severe injuries. He tore an ACL and MCL in a preaseason game, and those maladies came after he underwent offseason foot surgery. The fifth-year player joins other players with recent injury histories on the market, with Pernell McPhee and Alex Okafor also among the top edge options.

Murphy, though, showed promise in 2016 by registering nine sacks despite not being a starter. Murphy, 27, was also suspended for PEDs last year. The former second-round pick would rejoin a Ryan Kerrigan-fronted edge corps if he re-signs. The Redskins selected Ryan Anderson in the second round last year and also have Preston Smith under contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/12/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • Ryan Tannehill‘s season is officially over. The Dolphins placed the quarterback on IR and signed linebacker Junior Sylvestre. Tannehill, who will have knee surgery next week, is expected to be ready for the 2018 season. Sylvestre spent time with the Ryan Grigson-era Colts for two years but was cut after Indianapolis’ 2016 training camp. He signed with the Bills earlier this year but was cut after a month.
  • The Panthers signed defensive lineman Connor Wujciak, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Wujciak was an Eagles UDFA signing on in 2016, but an injury wiped out his would-be rookie season. The Chiefs worked out Wujciak last week. Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler will miss some time, Ron Rivera revealed Friday — via David Newton of ESPN.com — opening the door for an extra defensive line opportunity. Rivera said Butler’s target date for a return is Week 1. The Panthers waived defensive tackle Drew Iddings with an injury designation to open a roster spot, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reports (on Twitter).
  • Carolina also brought back offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, Person reports. The Panthers made room by cutting offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson, who had spent time with them since last season (Twitter links). A three-year backup blocker who played in 16 games for the 2014 Panthers, Folkerts last played for the 2015 Rams. Los Angeles cut him when paring its roster down to 75 players last summer.
  • Cornerback Jumal Rolle signed with the Bills and will replace Charles James, whom the team released, Joe Buscaglia of WKBW reports (on Twitter). Both players have at least two years’ experience and both previously played for the Texans. The 27-year-old Rolle was a Houston UDFA in 2014 and has played in 18 games. Rolle also intercepted three passes as a rookie before becoming mostly a special teams player in the time since. James played in 21 games with Houston between the 2015-16 seasons; Buffalo claimed him on waivers in May.
  • The Broncos relocated defensive lineman Billy Winn to IR after his ACL tear diagnosis emerged Friday. They signed linebacker Nelson Adams, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com reports.
  • Linebacker Reshard Cliett negotiated an injury settlement with the Chiefs, becoming a free agent after being removed from Kansas City’s IR list, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports (on Twitter).
  • The Giants waived linebacker Jimmy Herman, whom they signed Friday. James Kratch of NJ.com tweets Herman was given a “left squad” designation.
  • The Saints and linebacker Sae Tautu agreed on an injury settlement to trigger Tautu’s release from New Orleans’ IR, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com tweets.
  • Rookie wide receiver Keevan Lucas signed a three-year contract with the Eagles, the team announced. Philadelphia waived linebacker Steven Daniels to make room. A Tulsa product, Lucas declared early but was not signed by a team after the draft.
  • Washington signed wide receiver Jamari Staples and waived/injured left tackle Kevin Bowen, per John Keim of ESPN.com. The Chiefs waived Staples in June after initially signing him in May. The Redskins also placed Trent Murphy on IR. Murphy tore his ACL in Washington’s preseason opener Thursday night.

Redskins’ Trent Murphy Done For Year

The Redskins received some bad news on Friday morning. Outside linebacker Trent Murphy suffered a season-ending torn ACL, according to Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). He also has a torn MCL, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), meaning that his rehab process will become more complicated. "<strong

Washington was already preparing for life without Murphy through the first month of the season thanks to his four-game ban for performance-enhancing drugs. Now they’ll have to get by without the 26-year-old for the entire season.

Losing Murphy is a tough blow for the Redskins, but on the plus side, Junior Galette has looked productive and largely healthy throughout training camp. Galette has not seen live action since 2014, but he had 10.0 sacks and 45 tackles in that campaign. Galette can slide into Murphy’s previous supersub role while Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Ryan Anderson project to start at the top OLB spots.

Murphy is coming off of the most productive season of his career as he notched 46 tackles and a career-high 9.0 sacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: OBJ, Cowboys, Redskins

The Giants aren’t prioritizing a new contract for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who’s under control at eminently affordable prices through next season. If they do attempt to lock up Beckham down the line, it doesn’t seem that it’s going to be an easy negotiation. Beckham told uninterrupted.com on Thursday that he’s aiming to eventually become the NFL’s highest-paid player (via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post). “It’s like the elephant in the room and you don’t want to talk about it,’’ said Beckham. “I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m like, there’s no need to not talk about it. I believe that I will be, hopefully not just the highest-paid receiver in the league, but the highest paid, period.”

As great as Beckham has been during his three-year career, the top-paid honor tends to belong to a quarterback. That’s the case right now, with the Raiders’ Derek Carr‘s just-signed deal (five years, $125MM-plus) atop the heap on an annual basis. The Steelers’ Antonio Brown leads all receivers in yearly pay ($17MM per on a four-year, $68MM accord), but he lags far behind Carr. And it might be awhile before the 24-year-old Beckham is even able to challenge Brown and the league’s other richest wideouts, given that the Giants will have the option of placing the franchise tag on him for tolerable costs in both 2019 and ’20 if he’s unsigned. In the meantime, Beckham’s set to play this year for $1.8MM – a pittance relative to his production – and the Giants picked up his $8.5MM fifth-year option for 2018.

More on New York and two of its NFC East rivals:

  • The Cowboys’ signing of running back Ronnie Hillman on Thursday has nothing to do with a potential suspension for Ezekiel Elliott, reports David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. Rather, the Cowboys added Hillman as both a possible Lance Dunbar replacement and someone capable of accruing touches during the summer and taking some of the stress off the team’s other backs in the coming weeks. As for Elliott, who was bracing for a suspension two weeks ago, the NFL probably won’t announce his fate until later in the preseason, per Moore.
  • Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent offseason surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot, according to JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic. Murphy is now healed, but he still won’t factor into the Redskins’ early season plans as a result of the four-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension the NFL handed him in April. When he returns in Week 6 (the Redskins have a Week 5 bye), the nine-sack man from 2016 will look to continue that strong production in a contract year.
  • Giants coach Ben McAdoo told reporters on Thursday that defensive end Owa Odighizuwa has reported to camp (Twitter link via Schwartz). Odighizuwa stayed away from the Giants during the offseason on account of personal issues.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Lions, Saints, Cards, Redskins

Quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters Tuesday that he “would love” to sign an extension with the Lions, but further comments indicate he’s looking to cash in – not take any kind of a discount – writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Stafford addressed whether a mega-deal with the Lions would hinder their ability to build a quality team around him, saying: “I know every year teams find good ways to put good teams around good quarterbacks. You see it every year. So I’m not too worried about that. I know that the salary caps and all that kind of stuff is as malleable as you want it to be, so I think you just go and try and make a good decision for not only the player but the team and go from there.” Only four of the NFL’s 10 highest-paid quarterbacks were on teams that made the playoffs last season, with top-compensated signal-caller Andrew Luck among those whose clubs didn’t qualify. Thanks to the ever-rising cap, Stafford, 17th in QB salary in 2016, could be in line to supplant Luck as the league’s richest passer on his next deal.

More from the NFC:

  • The fact that quarterback Drew Brees is entering his age-38 season is a good reason for the Saints to swing a deal for New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, argues Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Butler would occupy a hefty chunk of New Orleans’ cap room with an extension and would likely cost the team the 32nd overall pick, but he’s young enough (27) and has proven enough to make a trade a worthwhile move for a win-now team whose best player, Brees, might not have much time left, Triplett suggests. Butler signed his restricted free agent tender Tuesday, making him eligible for a trade. The Saints have shown significant interest in Butler this spring, even engaging in productive contract talks with him last month.
  • If the Cardinals were to draft a quarterback, that player would step into a “unique” situation, head coach Bruce Arians told Darren Urban of the team’s website (Twitter link). The Cardinals will rest aging starter Carson Palmer each Wednesday during the season, enabling the rookie to helm the first-team offense in practice once a week and perhaps expedite his development. Arizona owns the 13th overall pick and has shown interest in several draft-bound QBs, including prospective first-rounders Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Davis Webb and DeShone Kizer.
  • The way the Redskins approach the offensive tackle position in the draft could be a sign of how extension talks are going with Morgan Moses, observes Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The right tackle is set to play a contract year, so it’s possible the Redskins will spend an early pick on a potential replacement. On the other hand, if they only address the position late or not at all, it may bode well for a new Moses deal. Washington has the money to get a deal done, opines Tandler, who expects Moses to earn $6MM to $7MM annually on his next pact. The 25-year-old has certainly made a case for a raise – he’s coming off his second consecutive 16-start season, one in which he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 17th-best tackle among 78 qualifiers.
  • Meanwhile, Tandler senses that Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy and safety Bashaud Breeland are inclined to wait on discussing extensions (though it’s unclear whether the team is pursuing deals with either). While Murphy tallied a career-high nine sacks last season, his contract year has already gotten off to an inauspicious start with a four-game suspension. Breeland just switched agents, but judging by Tandler’s report, he’s not ready to put his new rep’s negotiating skills to the test quite yet.

NFL Suspends Trent Murphy Four Games

The NFL has suspended Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy for four games without pay for a violation of its policy on performance-enhancing drugs, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Murphy unsuccessfully appealed the ban, which the league originally handed down last month.

Trent Murphy

A 2014 second-round pick, Murphy seemingly boosted his stock last season – his second straight 16-game campaign – by picking up career-high totals in sacks (nine) and forced fumbles (three) during his penultimate year of team control. Impressively, Murphy posted that gaudy sack total without starting a game, instead serving as a reserve behind Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. Murphy was mostly a No. 1 in his first two years, during which he combined for 23 starts and six sacks in 31 appearances.

Now that the league has upheld Murphy’s suspension, he’ll miss a quarter of the season, thus hurting him as he vies for a strong contract year and subtracting a key defender from Washington’s lineup. The Redskins finished last season tied for ninth in the league in sacks (38), 20 of which came from Kerrigan (a team-leading 11) and Murphy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.